Meeting the demands of your life can be difficult at best sometimes. However, when you include your personal finances, the obstacles can increase. There are great ways to make smarter spending and saving choices, if you have the right mind set and willpower. Make a good start by reading on, and find some great advice for putting you on the right financial path.
If you are planning a major trip, consider opening a new credit card to finance it that offers rewards. Many travel cards are even affiliated with a hotel chain or airline, meaning that you get extra bonuses for using those companies. The rewards you rack up can cover a hotel stay or even an entire domestic flight.
If you have determined that your budget for a home mortgage is larger than your current rent payment, start putting that difference away each month. This will give you a real-world idea of what that cost does to your living expenses. It also helps you build up savings towards your down payment.
If you are not sure if it is the right time to buy or to sell, it is best to do nothing at all. When you are risking your money that you worked hard for, it is always better to be safe then to be sorry and lose your money.
You can better understand where your money goes when you write down how much you spend every day. If you put your notes in an obscure location, though, it may be too easy to forget about it. Rather than a notebook, try using a whiteboard that is set up in a room of the house that you spend a lot of time in. Seeing this multiple times a day can help keep it fresh in your mind.
You and your children should consider public schools for college over private universities. There are many highly prestigious state schools that will cost you a fraction of what you would pay at a private school. Also consider attending community college for your AA degree for a more affordable education.
Business and personal travel can mix well if you log your spending wisely. Take a small journal that will allow you to log any business-related expenses while away. Attach a small envelope inside the front cover of the book that will hold any receipts you will acquire as well.
If you want to keep your credit score as high as possible, you should have between two and four credit cards in active use. Having at least two cards helps you establish a clear payment history, and if you’ve been paying them off it raises your score. Holding more than four cards at a time, however, makes it look like you’re trying to carry too much debt, and hurts your score.
Make sure you read over your credit card statement very carefully every month. Make sure there aren’t any charges that shouldn’t be on there. It helps if you keep any receipts from purchases where you used your credit card this way you can use those to verify any charges on your account.
Spend less than you make. Living even right at your means can cause you to never have savings for an emergency or retirement. It means never having a down payment for your next home or paying cash for your car. Get used to living beneath your means and living without debt will become easy.
If offered by your company, consider signing up for a cafeteria plan for your health care costs. These plans allow you to set aside a regular amount of money into an account specifically to use for your medical expenses. The benefit is that this money comes out of your account pretax which will lower your adjusted gross income saving you some money come tax time. You can use these benefits for copays, prescriptions, deductibles and even some over the counter medications.
When saving money, most experts agree that it’s best to have at least 3 months’ salary put away for an emergency. This can help you cover all kinds of disasters like car accidents, medical bills, driving tickets, a fire, expensive equipment like a computer or refrigerator needing to be replaced, or any other expensive unfortunate event.
Use store-specific generics instead of buying brand-name products. National brands often cost more because they need the money to advertise their brand. Pick the generic option instead, which is always cheaper. There really isn’t much difference in the quality, performance or taste of a generic brand.
Giving children an allowance is a great way to introduce them to personal finance and teach them how to manage money. When they are given age-appropriate chores and paid for a job well done, not only are they motivated to continue doing good work, they are learning about responsibility and the value of a dollar.
Splurge every now and then. No one likes the feeling of deprivation, and if you know that you have the freedom to have one big meal or one pair of shoes every now and then, you will have a feeling of mastery over your finances. Don’t overdo it, but a small luxury purchase periodically is worth it.
It is never too early to teach children about personal finance and savings. If they earn an allowance, have them set aside a percentage into a piggy bank or a savings account (if they’re old enough to have one). They can also do the same with money they receive for birthdays or holidays.
Fund your retirement account heavily. Make sure that you are at least put in as much as your company will match. More than that is even better. Planning for retirement now will keep you from worrying about it later. You will have a nice nest egg and be able to live comfortably when you reach retirement age.
It is easy to see that with some minor changes, combined with the right attitude, you can make a big change in your financial outlook. Getting the most out of the money that you bring in, is just as important as what you get from the money you spend. Use what you have learned here to get control of your finances, and stop letting them control you.